Owner of Adult Foster Care Program Arraigned for Alleged Illegal Kickbacks
Services Rendered by Result of Kickbacks Exceeds $1.2 Million
FALL RIVER – The owner and program director of a Fall River based adult foster care business were arraigned Monday in Bristol Superior Court for allegedly paying, and offering to pay, illegal kickbacks in exchange for the referral of new clients enrolled in the Medicaid-funded program, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced.
Dennis Etzkorn, 52, the owner of Gabriel Care, LLC and Jennifer Nunes-Reid, 34, the company’s program director, both pleaded not guilty to charges of Medicaid kickback (three counts), Medicaid false claims (three counts), and larceny over $250 (one count). Both defendants were released on personal recognizance.
According to authorities, Gabriel Care is an adult foster care provider that oversees caregivers, typically a friend or family member, rendering at-home personal care services to MassHealth recipients.
Indictments returned on March 30 by a Bristol County Grand Jury allege that Etzkorn, Nunes-Reid and his business paid and offered to pay individuals including those participating as clients or caregivers in the adult foster care program, a predetermined amount of money for each eligible MassHealth member they referred to his company.
Gabriel Care then allegedly billed MassHealth for adult foster care services rendered to those clients for which a kickback was supposedly paid. Authorities allege that for at least 44 clients who were illegally procured by kickbacks between March 2009 and September 2011, Gabriel Care billed for and received over $1.2 million from MassHealth.
An investigation into Gabriel Care began after AG Coakley’s Medicaid Fraud Division received a citizen complaint on its Medicaid Fraud hotline at (617) 963-2360. The extensive investigation ultimately focused on the activities alleged in the indictments.
Etzkorn and Nunes-Reid are scheduled for a pre-trial hearing in Bristol Superior Court on May 23. These charges are allegations and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Assistant Attorney General Steven Sharobem is prosecuting this case. The case is being investigated by Investigators Christopher Cecchini and Ronald Velez with AG Coakley's Medicaid Fraud Division. Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General’s Office and Special Agents from the Boston Office of the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General also assisted in this case.